In the four years that he has been the Sporting Director of FC Goa, Ravi Puskur has been instrumental in shaping the club. As someone who is directly involved in the recruitment of players, staff, and youth academy stakeholders, Puskur oversees a lot of aspects of FC Goa.
Ahead of the upcoming Indian Super League, Ravi Puskur spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview about how players are recruited to the club and how the current players and the coaching staff are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. This season has been marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. How have the players and staff responded so far to the new protocols in place?
Ravi Puskur: Yes, obviously, it's a little bit off because as a footballer, there's a high-intensity environment that you tend to work with where there's a lot of expectations in terms of the concentration required in the training sessions. The work that you put in off the field to ensure you're in optimal condition to perform physically, displaces a lot of stress on a football player. Obviously the downtime away from that is equally important to ensure the disconnect from the game when possible.
However, this season, we're in a bubble where you're constantly thinking about football 24x7. You are surrounded by the same teammates, the same coaching staff around you. Therefore, it's not easy to distract yourself from the real job at hand. But so far, our players have done a commendable job of ensuring that they continue to stay focused. We've seen constant improvements in the training ground through the course of the pre-season.
Juan (Ferrando) is also quite happy with how the adaptation has gone since he's come in to take the team-training sessions. And so far, we've got a good group of players; they're not just good footballers, but they're good individuals as well. And it's allowed us to form a strong group.
And we believe that we have a good dressing room as well. We've got a lot of established leaders in there as well as players who are keen to sort of showcase and make their mark and put their hand up when we're asking them to take responsibility on the pitch. And that is actually a very positive sign.
So far, we've adapted well, but the real competition begins in 20 days. And that's when the real test will be for us. And we hope to put our best foot forward and see how things go from there.
Q. You are quite involved in player recruitment. What are the two or three things you look for in a player before deciding to sign him?
Ravi Puskur: Player recruitment is not rocket science, but it's not simple either. Because there are certain aspects that you need to look into. Fundamental to everything is of course communication. Ensuring that you're on the same page as your head coaches is fundamental. And then after that, clarity is important in terms of what sort of players you're looking for, and what are the ideas and thought process you have in mind in terms of bringing the players in.
Then each position is outlined, there's a specific set of processes that we go through. We identify a certain number of players who we think might fit into a footballing style. Then we try and see how many of those can be improved upon by bringing into our coaching system.
Then obviously, we need to match the numbers that go up against their salary, and also try and see how best we think they were adapted to our system and how they are as individuals. While we place a great emphasis on the footballing talent and the technical skill, we also do place equally good importance on how they are as individuals and how well they will fit into the dressing room. And adaptation is fundamental to the success of a football team. So those are the key things.
And then obviously, when it comes down to positions, it's specific to each position what we're looking for. Again, that's a discussion that's had in conjunction with the head coach. He will have a clearly defined style of football that he wants to play, he will have certain ideas of what he expects each position to do for him on the pitch and the roles that they will fulfill. And accordingly, we ensure that we try and get players that suit that footballing style, but also suit the requirements of the head coach.
Q. How different will things be this season without the fans in the stadium?
Ravi Puskur: Things will definitely be different. A great strength of FC Goa has always been its fans, and always will be. So we will definitely miss them this year. But we're hoping that they will be back with us from their respective homes.
And we still feel the support every day, day in and day out. We are as close to them as we possibly can be via social media channels. The players have heard a lot about FC Goa’s phenomenal fan base and the unconditional support we've received from them. And we hope they'll continue to hear this season as well when they're behind closed doors.
And we hope that the fans continue to back the team as always. And for the players, it's a great amount of motivation to be knowing that you're backed by some of the best fans in the country.
Q. Can you name three things you enjoy doing outside of football?
Ravi Puskur: Outside of the work environment, I'm somebody who likes to do a little bit of sport as well. I am quite keen on playing football as many times as possible.
And beyond that, I do travel quite a bit in my free time. I have tried to mix a little bit of work into the travel as well as try and make an opportunity to understand new systems, new cultures, new footballing ideas.
And the third thing I'm a big fan of is chess. I'm a player who plays it quite often, possibly every other weekend. I have a certain set of friends and colleagues that I play with.Published 12 Nov 2020, 13:07 IST